Are there any hard-and-fast dos and don’ts?
“We have quite strict rules in the kitchen when it comes to safety (hot and sharp aren’t really a toddler’s best friend), and obviously that’s important. But other than that, we just go with the flow each time. The amount of times Rex has eaten more raw waffle mix than actual cooked waffles is numerous, but I tell you what, he knows what flour is, how to beat butter, how to crack an egg without getting shell in the mix and why he shouldn’t eat too much sugar. Do have fun, that’s what food is all about. Don’t do it if you’re worried about the cleaning!” – Sven-Hanson
“Mess is inevitable – live with that first, then it won't be as stressful and it will be more enjoyable. Also, when they are younger, it is easier to do all the weighing out first and the ‘mise en place’, so they can enjoy pouring things into pots and pans and just stirring. Don't give them a hard time when they spill measured out milk and pour half the weighed-out sugar on the floor. Always let them taste things along the way, even if it's raw eggs. And make sure to get a kitchen helper chair so your child can be at the right safe level with you.” – James
Do you try to teach them specific skills?
“Skills don’t matter – they can be learned later. It’s all about building a positive relationship. How do you make a roux? Who cares? I can teach a chimpanzee how to do that in half an hour. Why do you want to make a roux in the first place? That’s the important thing! Teach a love of food, travel, culture, cooking, inclusiveness. Teach fun, bond over the mess and the trials and tribulations. Teach them about wine, about consumption, about calories and limits. Teach them about hunger, about starvation, about the pure expense of ingredients, be with them when they experience their first oyster, their first rare steak, the best English asparagus, be with them and share their pure unbridled excitement when they pick strawberries at a PYO, share a midnight kebab after a gig, teach yourself how to cook a proper carbonara and watch them eat it. Do all these things and you will never need to teach them how to make a roux. They will do that for themselves.” – Sven-Hanson
“Every child is different and I can only speak based on our daughter. From six months to one year, they could learn to mash, stir and pour. Aged one to two years, they could learn to chop (with a children's safe knife). From two to three, they could learn to measure ingredients and crack eggs. Three years onwards, we allowed Shea to join in on everything with supervision, except deep frying. She now helps me make sushi and is on the stove next to me stir frying. I'm not sure at what age we can expect her to be able to completely cook on her own…” – James